Above-average wheat yields in southern North Dakota

Hebron, ND (Reuters) — Spring wheat prospects are above average in southern North Dakota, scouts on an annual crop tour said on Tuesday.

Crop scouts on the Wheat Quality Council’s tour travelling one route in south-central and southwestern North Dakota made four stops and projected an average yield of 45.6 bushels per acre (bpa), above the tour’s year-ago average for the same route near 39 bpa.

“It’s a good, solid crop, probably with a bit more lodging than normal,” said Jim Peterson, marketing director for the North Dakota Wheat Commission, who is on the tour.

The heads are a bit smaller than expected, limiting yield prospects, Peterson said.

Another car travelling through southeastern North Dakota and parts of neighboring Minnesota sampled six fields and calculated an average yield of 50.7 bpa. That figure is close to the tour’s year-ago average for the same route of 50.9 bpa and above the route’s five-year average near 43 bpa.

A third car scouting northern portions of South Dakota calculated an average yield after six stops of 55 bpa, below the tour’s year-ago average for the same route of 65.5, but above the route’s five-year average near 52.

Crop ratings for spring wheat in top producer North Dakota have been strong, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture rating 84 per cent of the state’s crop as good to excellent. The USDA has forecast a record-high North Dakota spring wheat yield of 48 bushels per acre for 2015, topping the 2014 record of 47.5.

However, fungal diseases such as stripe rust and head scab have affected the crop in some areas. Peterson said that given the disease pressure, yield prospects might be overrated.

The state’s crop was planted early and harvest is less than two weeks away in southern portions of the state, scouts said.

About 66 crop scouts drawn from the milling, baking and grain-handling sectors are traveling from Fargo to Bismarck, North Dakota, on the first day of the Wheat Quality Council’s three-day tour. The tour is scheduled to release a final spring wheat yield forecast on Thursday.

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